SYSTEM
PS2

PRICE
$49.99

DEVELOPER
Angel Studios

PUBLISHER
Rockstar

RELEASE DATE
10/00

Smuggler's Run Review

By: John Doe


Smuggler's Run is an excellent title that at first gives the impression of having not much to do. But the more you spend with this game, the more addicted you become. Some might think it's a new incarnation of Twisted Metal or Vigilante 8, but that couldn't be further from the truth. Smuggler's Run has a great arcade feel to it, which is more along the lines of a "Capture the Flag", then vehicle combat.


Highs:
Lows:

Racing games can be great fun but what makes a game great is the not only the graphics and the physics, but most importantly I believe, is the motivation. It's not much fun doing something unless there is some sort of reward for it in the end. Sometimes the reward is just knowing that you completed a challenge successfully. You're not going to spend much time with something that provides little challenge. You don't play the original Donkey Kong anymore do you?

Some of us are motivated by money, some by fame, others by a sense of accomplishment. Players of Rockstar's Smuggler's Run will be motivated by the prospect of serving 10 to 20 in a federal pen. The premise of Smuggler's Run is to load up your vehicle with contraband and navigate your way through a variety of terrain while avoiding the cops who are in hot pursuit. Smuggler's Run takes racing to a whole new level. With chases, races, spills, thrills and airborne vehicles, this game is every thing the Dukes of Hazzard wished it could be - but of course failed horribly in its pathetic attempt and therefore I refuse to talk to it anymore. In fact, it's separated from the general population of my PlayStation titles, just in case someone breaks into my house to steal all of my games and thinks that I actually liked Dukes of Hazzard enough to keep it in my collection. I don't want to have the nice burglars thinking less of me.

A dune buggy, a SUV, a rally car and a Hummer are some of the vehicles you will have at your disposal. Each vehicle has its distinct qualities, for instance, the dune buggy is the lightest and fastest on sand; the SUV is heavier but more powerful. The fastest vehicle is the rally car and the Hummer is the best choice overall. The vehicles do sustain realistic looking damage from rocks, trees, flips and collisions with the aggressive AI police who will chase you on snow, through the forest and in the desert. The PS2 allows you to see many virtual miles into the distance which is so important when you're panicking at high speeds. Many surprises such as canyons, detours and other unfriendly pirates await the unwary smuggler.

It's essentially an arcade style game with no fooling around. Plenty of action right out of the gate; not a lot of fussing with sissy options such as paint jobs and vanity plates. Just steal a load and get it to your drop off. The object of the game is to collect the most booty without getting caught. The physics are forgiving and not very realistic which is a lot of fun in its own right. You don't have to struggle with the controls for days to become a professional smuggler. The controls are tight and you will need good reflexes in the more challenging rounds. Thankfully you can work your way up to the levels gradually.

The game is divided into three modes: Smuggler's Run; Turf Wars, and Joyriding. Smugglers Run is the premise I've already described; a series of single-player missions played against the AI. Add your pal to the mix and you will be playing Turf Wars; it's basically Smuggler's Run for two. If you just want to cruise the terrain and experiment with the vehicles without having the local constabulary breathing up your ass, then may I recommend Joyriding mode as the perfect selection? This is the mode where you learn to get good. I practiced in this mode for hours, taking jumps, rolls and learning how to navigate the map. It's kind of like reading all the answers to Trivial Pursuit a day before you have people over to play it. Problem with both these approaches is retaining the information. The levels are so massive you'll never remember where danger lurks but at least you will be on alert.

With such massive areas, the backgrounds do lack something in the "visually stimulating" department. The textures are dull and repetitive but I ask you: have you ever traveled thorough a desert? What the game lacks in pretty graphics it makes up for with heart. Much of the environment is interactive, which means you can destroy it. If something's getting you down or it's in your way just hit it - just like your daddy does after a night at the bar. One thing you might notice in SR, is the horizon. It's always there. It doesn't pop up to greet you while driving. In fact, if you can see it in Smuggler's Run, you can darn well drive to it, and past it in some cases! Now that's the power of the PS2 in all of it's glory!

If you want to see what your PS2 can do, Smuggler's Run is a good one to start with. It will exercise that emotion engine until its begging for mercy. Lots of good, clean and highly illegal fun. Highly recommended!

OVERALL
8.5

GRAPHICS
8.5

CONTROL
8.5

MUSIC/FX
8.0

FRUSTRATION
2.0

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